There is no match for the bravery, dedication and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. In Congress, we must do everything in our power to honor the service of our veterans by upholding a solemn promise: just as the military pledges to leave no soldier behind on the battlefield, we will leave no veteran behind when they return home.
From 2007 to 2010, our government made more progress than in the previous three decades in paying our veterans back for their service and sacrifice. Some of the major accomplishments for veterans passed under a Democratic-led Congress include:
- The G.I. Bill of Rights for the 21st Century – In 2008 the Democratic-led Congress passed a G.I. Bill of Rights for the 21st Century. The law restored the promise of a full, four-year college education for about 2 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, making them part of the economic recovery. The law also allows veterans up to 15 years after they leave active duty to use their education benefits (up from 10).
- The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act – The Recovery Act (2009) and subsequent Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act built on the G.I. Bill to provide incentives for businesses to hire recently discharged veterans, make it easier for veterans to refinance into more affordable mortgages, and create a one-stop-shop for veterans who wish to start their own business.
- The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations of 2007 – To meet the growing needs of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Democratic-led Congress passed the largest increase in funding for the VA and veterans services in 77 years. This appropriations bill has led to a steady decrease in the backlog of veterans waiting for disability and other benefits by adding over a thousand new claims processors. It also dramatically increased resources for the VA to treat Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and Traumatic Brain Injury.
We know there is much work left to be done: we cannot rest until no veteran is forced to sleep on the street, until veterans claims are settled in a manner that is expedient and transparent, and until no veteran in need of care is ever turned away from a VA medical facility.
Our service members have done everything asked of them – and done so with courage and excellence. It is our duty as elected officials to show our men and women in uniform, their families, and caregivers the same measure of devotion that they have shown our country. Let us always be certain, then, that we are serving our veterans as well as they have served us.Share Your Story